The debt ceiling battle: Where things stand on a vote
House Speaker John Boehner arrives at the Capitol Friday morning.
July 29th, 2011
09:47 PM ET

The debt ceiling battle: Where things stand on a vote

The federal government has four days left to raise the nation's current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, the Treasury Department said. A failure to do so will risk an unprecedented national default.

If the debt ceiling is not raised by Tuesday, Americans could face rising interest rates and a declining dollar, among other problems.

As the cost of borrowing rises, individual mortgages, car loans and student loans could become significantly more expensive. Some financial experts have warned of a downgrade of America's triple-A credit rating and a potential stock market crash.

Without an increase in the debt limit, the federal government will not be able to pay all of its bills next month. President Barack Obama recently indicated he can't guarantee Social Security checks will be mailed out on time. Other critical government programs could be endangered as well.

Where do things stand in the fight to raise the debt ceiling?


Senate Democrats on Friday blocked the latest House Republican proposal to cut spending and increase the federal debt ceiling, setting up a weekend of negotiations to seek a deal that would avoid a potential federal default next week.

Earlier Friday, House Republicans passed Speaker John Boehner's latest proposal, overcoming opposition from Democrats and tea party conservatives. But Democrats had vowed to defeat it in the Senate, where they have the majority.

Boehner's plan calls for $917 billion in savings over the next decade, while creating a special congressional committee to recommend additional savings of $1.6 trillion or more. It would allow the debt ceiling to be increased by a total of roughly $2.5 trillion through two separate votes. The $2.5 trillion total would be enough to fund the federal government through the end of 2012.

The plan originally called for a congressional vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by the end of the year. Boehner has since reached out to disgruntled conservatives by amending the plan to require congressional passage of such an amendment as a condition for raising the debt limit by the full $2.5 trillion, according to two GOP congressmen.

The vote was scheduled to have taken place on Thursday night, but Republican leaders postponed the vote amid signs they did not have enough support to pass it.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan would reduce federal deficits over the next decade by at least $2.2 trillion while raising the debt ceiling by $2.7 trillion. Reid has promised additional cuts will be included in the final version of his legislation - enough to meet the GOP's demand that total savings should at least equal any total debt ceiling hike.

Reid's plan would cut spending by $1.8 trillion. Roughly $1 trillion in the savings are based on the planned U.S. withdrawals from military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Reid's plan also would establish a congressional committee made up of 12 House and Senate members to consider additional options for debt reduction. The committee's proposals would be guaranteed a Senate vote with no amendments by the end of this year.

Reid said Friday morning that he "must take action" on the Senate's legislation by the end of the day.


Obama has endorsed Reid's plan and threatened a veto of Boehner's plan. The president strongly opposes any bill which doesn't raise the debt ceiling through the 2012 election. Obama has promised to veto any short-term debt ceiling extension unless it paves the way for a "grand bargain" of more sweeping reforms and revenue increases.

On Friday, Obama urged Senate Democrats and Republicans to take the lead in congressional negotiations. He said the House GOP plan "has no chance of becoming law." Obama also urged Americans to keep contacting members of Congress in order "to keep the pressure on Washington."

The president made a nationally televised plea for compromise Monday night, though he also criticized Republicans for opposing any tax hikes on the wealthy.

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Filed under: Budget • Business • Economy • Finance • Politics
soundoff (748 Responses)
  1. E

    What happened to free speach?????

    July 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. stella

    What's ridiculous, among other things, is this notion of forming a "bipartisan commission" to study the debt reduction thing after they get out of these woods in the next few days. Didn't our president already appoint one, and then proceeded to ignore their suggestions. Yeah, I think so.

    July 29, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sheldon Collins

    This is perhaps why I've stayed away from blogs and other forms of social networking.
    "To the bird, there is no left wing or right; only the necessity of flight." Sheloni Collins

    Perhaps it's time to admit that we have no-one to blame but ourselves. As a nation we make poor choices to represent us. We don't seriously study the issues nor the history of the issues. Perhaps we should be voting for those individuals who don't have anything but mankinds best interest in their campaign coffers. It's a radical idea I know but it's practical. The basic agenda any candidate should have at this point in human history is how best to prevent our species from destroying itself.

    July 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. E

    All you need is us to tell you what to do and what to think. After all an educated, informed, non-divided population is bad for business. If you are watching us and holding us accountable. How can “We Keep Stealing”

    Well Mr. Career Politician, Lobbyist and crap artists “We the People” are on to you Don’t tell us how much you love this country.

    You don’t care about ordinary people because you don’t know any or want to know any. . You don’t negotiate in good faith. You place politics above people and the bottom line is, you simply don’t CARE. After all, you’ve got yours, right?

    July 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheldon Collins

      E, You would be a good candidate to join in purchasing a small deficit bond. It would make the so-called patriots look bad.

      July 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. E

    Come this election cycle we will treat you all with the same disdain you’ve shown us. We The People are not stupid. As that old adage goes Putting Frosting and Candles on a piece of Crap does not make it a birthday cake.

    We’ll see you at the polls you . We look forwarded to throwing you out into the street so you can feel what it’s like to worry about your future, but maybe you wont because you’ve got yours, right.


    July 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mary

    "The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here'. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to incrase America's debt limit." Barrack Obama – March 16, 2006

    July 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Clint

    This self induced crisis must be the last straw America. Our so called leaders have taken us from a once proud country and dominant leader in the world to a country with a widely acknowledged dysfunctional political system at the brink of financial disaster. The real kicker is these idiots inside the beltway actually believe not only that they are providing value but that they are above the average American. Most of us know the truth; congress is a bunch of parasites destroying our country for their own self gain. I think it is time for the people to take back our government and kick these self serving, self righteous, narcissists out of office – all them democrats and republicans alike.

    July 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wyominguy

    This issue reminds me of the Obama Care "event" held in Congress...Americans are beginning to see how Congress really operates and are VERRY tired of it. I sometimes wonder how these people can sleep at night..Look at the Congressional approval ratings, they are in the sewer and yet these "leaders" stand up there with a straight face and act as though they are representing us...All they are really concerned about is who gave the most to their campaigns! Americans are disgusted by their elected leaders and the only way to correct the situation is Term Limits for them and senior staff.

    July 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clint

      Amen! I submit if we imposed term limits, campaign financial reform, and lord forbid eliminate lobbyist you would see most of the men and women in Congress leaving Washington like rats from a sinking ship. Take away the money and let's see how many of them are really interested in serving the people. The only problem is they would have to vote for all these changes. Can you say fox guarding the hen house?

      July 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Heikki Gronlund

    You cannot agreee on how to finance the money you have agreed to spend, even if they are notional ten-year-out dollars??!!! A pox on both your houses and I shall vote for anyone not in office next chance I get. And BTW, the entire concept of a debt ceiling is a self-imposed and unecessary hurdle...

    July 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. FedupInd

    Let's face it. The American people are stupid. We have apathetic voters which allow people like the Tea Party to get elected. Same thing happened in Germany with the Brown Shirts (NAZIs)

    July 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dachau

    CNN where are the articles outlining the response about stupidity of our politicans as can be read on the Financial Times (UK conservative news calling US republicans out), NTV.DE (German CNN affiliate), Chinese news (whatever they are)..... Maybe that would bring light to the incompetence of the right wing nuts. Congrats US.... We get what we deserve.... Dumb politicans that ruin our country.... And we elected them.... Hope everyone takes notice for next year.

    July 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. E

    The election cycle comes around and that’s when the circus begins. Vote for Me, Vote for Me, Vote for Me. One thing I didn’t tell you, while I’m asking for your vote that this is just a formality. My real loyalty lies (Yes and I do mean LIES)with the huge donors and lobbyist that I’ve been beholding to since taking office but, you don’t need to know that. You just have to believe that I have your best interest in mind. “Yeah Right”

    July 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. j

    Class action suit against Congress!!! Sign me up....

    July 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gaston

      keep posting and let all know!!!!!! They voted on behalf of the people who had no choice but more so for those who have power

      July 29, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Clint04

    Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, my plan won’t pass again today.

    July 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. E

    You know the best part of this whole thing is you’ve given us the power to write laws and make decisions that allow us to do this. What a great job I have!!. Elections are expensive and I need powerful friends with lots of money.

    You ordinary citizens don’t have any money because we’ve taxed you to the point where you can hardly make ends meet. If you are lucky enough to have some savings and a few investments my friends and I will make it very difficult for you to want to voice dissent because you are afraid of loosing what little bit you have. After all, you’re doing better than that poor slob down the street. This formula is very effective and “We Keep Stealing.” So you cling to life like a drowning man to a life vest and we continue to steal your money. We are in charge. We just let you think you are.

    July 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
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